The Student Room Group

Imperial vs Oxbridge

Heya! I'm in Y12 deciding which unis to apply to, and I am a bit torn here...
Personally the main factors I've been using as a means of deciding which unis I would like to go to are that I love clinical contact (so I'd really like to have that from the beginning) and I REALLLYY would lovee to do research. In terms of other stuff, there being an active Islamic Soc means a lot to me, and alsoo I'm obsessed with historical places which is why the London location is quite meh for me.

I visited Imperial at the recent open day and thought the course seemed amazing! I don't think I quite picked up how much clinical experience there is in the first year though... But there is definitely a huge emphasis on research which really suits me. The thing that puts me off with London unis is the city location though. The campus we saw was the South Kensington one which is actually a lovely location, but do medical students specifically spend a lot of time there?

The issue with oxbridge is the lack of clinical experience for 3 years for me, and also that, for personal reasons, I have to commute from home for uni and it'll be quite difficult for me to do otherwise, which doesn't work for oxbridge since you need to be on campus, right? But I love the location and their emphasis on research!

Long story short, if anyone who goes to imperial or oxbridge for med has any advice they could share about their experience at either of the unis, it would be really helpful! Thanks :smile:
Original post by spqr101
Heya! I'm in Y12 deciding which unis to apply to, and I am a bit torn here...
Personally the main factors I've been using as a means of deciding which unis I would like to go to are that I love clinical contact (so I'd really like to have that from the beginning) and I REALLLYY would lovee to do research. In terms of other stuff, there being an active Islamic Soc means a lot to me, and alsoo I'm obsessed with historical places which is why the London location is quite meh for me.

I visited Imperial at the recent open day and thought the course seemed amazing! I don't think I quite picked up how much clinical experience there is in the first year though... But there is definitely a huge emphasis on research which really suits me. The thing that puts me off with London unis is the city location though. The campus we saw was the South Kensington one which is actually a lovely location, but do medical students specifically spend a lot of time there?

The issue with oxbridge is the lack of clinical experience for 3 years for me, and also that, for personal reasons, I have to commute from home for uni and it'll be quite difficult for me to do otherwise, which doesn't work for oxbridge since you need to be on campus, right? But I love the location and their emphasis on research!

Long story short, if anyone who goes to imperial or oxbridge for med has any advice they could share about their experience at either of the unis, it would be really helpful! Thanks :smile:


I am not a medic but i’d suggest you apply to both then make a decision.
Original post by spqr101
Heya! I'm in Y12 deciding which unis to apply to, and I am a bit torn here...
Personally the main factors I've been using as a means of deciding which unis I would like to go to are that I love clinical contact (so I'd really like to have that from the beginning) and I REALLLYY would lovee to do research. In terms of other stuff, there being an active Islamic Soc means a lot to me, and alsoo I'm obsessed with historical places which is why the London location is quite meh for me.

I visited Imperial at the recent open day and thought the course seemed amazing! I don't think I quite picked up how much clinical experience there is in the first year though... But there is definitely a huge emphasis on research which really suits me. The thing that puts me off with London unis is the city location though. The campus we saw was the South Kensington one which is actually a lovely location, but do medical students specifically spend a lot of time there?

The issue with oxbridge is the lack of clinical experience for 3 years for me, and also that, for personal reasons, I have to commute from home for uni and it'll be quite difficult for me to do otherwise, which doesn't work for oxbridge since you need to be on campus, right? But I love the location and their emphasis on research!

Long story short, if anyone who goes to imperial or oxbridge for med has any advice they could share about their experience at either of the unis, it would be really helpful! Thanks :smile:


I spoke to some Oxford med students on my WEX, they kept saying that the course was very much geared towards those who want to do research and not as much towards patient care, so you probably want to decide which of clinical work or research you'd rather do to get the most out of your time, although that said, you can obviously work clinically with a degree from Oxbridge, or work in research with a degree from Imperial. Also be prepared for the fact that Oxbridge and Imperial will require very high BMAT scores (and other factors that vary between them), so it's not worth having your heart set on these, especially since you will be applying blind, without knowing your BMAT score! Personally I chose 2 UCAT, 2 BMAT, with one aspirational choice (Oxford), 2 more realistic choices (BSMS, St A) and one safe (Keele), I did worse in my BMAT on the day than in practice so didn't get an interview form Oxford, but got offers from BSMS (BMAT) and Keele. Some people will naturally be good at traditional/BMAT-style exams, and if that's you, you might be able to pull off 2 applications to the more competitive BMAT unis, but just make sure you're realistic and have some safe choices too. Remember rankings, prestige, reputation of the uni etc mean nothing for medicine, so no point applying to the more prestigious unis if you're unlikely to get an offer there (although looks like you've done some research and have your reasons for these choices). I recommend looking at websites to check you meet all entry requirements and that the admissions process suits you, e.g. no point applying to Cambridge without maths or physics as your third subject, Oxford is very GCSE-heavy so probably not worth applying without all 8/9s etc. Most unis (or colleges for oxbridge) will also have lists of the societies and sports teams on their website if you want to look at which ones have an Islamic soc or anything else you're interested in. Sorry I can't be of huge help, although IIRC @becausethenight goes to Imperial and might be able to help?
Original post by spqr101
Heya! I'm in Y12 deciding which unis to apply to, and I am a bit torn here...
Personally the main factors I've been using as a means of deciding which unis I would like to go to are that I love clinical contact (so I'd really like to have that from the beginning) and I REALLLYY would lovee to do research. In terms of other stuff, there being an active Islamic Soc means a lot to me, and alsoo I'm obsessed with historical places which is why the London location is quite meh for me.

I visited Imperial at the recent open day and thought the course seemed amazing! I don't think I quite picked up how much clinical experience there is in the first year though... But there is definitely a huge emphasis on research which really suits me. The thing that puts me off with London unis is the city location though. The campus we saw was the South Kensington one which is actually a lovely location, but do medical students specifically spend a lot of time there?

The issue with oxbridge is the lack of clinical experience for 3 years for me, and also that, for personal reasons, I have to commute from home for uni and it'll be quite difficult for me to do otherwise, which doesn't work for oxbridge since you need to be on campus, right? But I love the location and their emphasis on research!

Long story short, if anyone who goes to imperial or oxbridge for med has any advice they could share about their experience at either of the unis, it would be really helpful! Thanks :smile:

To answer your questions with Imperial:

- we have Muslim Medics, which is one of the largest societies in the medical school and widely seen as excellent. I’m not Muslim but have worked with them on academic stuff and everyone loves it as far as I can tell (I also do, but not involved in the faith/community aspect personally) :smile:

- in first year you’d have fortnightly GP placement and then a 2 week hospital placement after exams, which is really fun.

- you’ll spend a decent amount of time in South Ken in first and second year, but the main medics campus is Charing Cross in Hammersmith. It isn’t a campus uni but as with any medical school you just end up being on placement anyway eventually. I love the sense of community from having our own campus and spaces, even if they’re not that pretty :tongue:

I’d also just stress that they have quite different entry criteria and you want to apply where you’ll get in - Oxford has needed all A* GCSEs (but dropped that last year, so just a very high BMAT), Cambridge needs A*A*A minimum in 3 sciences, ideally 4 A levels, and Imperial’s BMAT cutoff has skyrocketed in the past couple years, but if the early BMAT comes back they did accept it.

Happy to answer any other questions :smile:

Original post by bea_murray0
I spoke to some Oxford med students on my WEX, they kept saying that the course was very much geared towards those who want to do research and not as much towards patient care, so you probably want to decide which of clinical work or research you'd rather do to get the most out of your time, although that said, you can obviously work clinically with a degree from Oxbridge, or work in research with a degree from Imperial. Also be prepared for the fact that Oxbridge and Imperial will require very high BMAT scores (and other factors that vary between them), so it's not worth having your heart set on these, especially since you will be applying blind, without knowing your BMAT score! Personally I chose 2 UCAT, 2 BMAT, with one aspirational choice (Oxford), 2 more realistic choices (BSMS, St A) and one safe (Keele), I did worse in my BMAT on the day than in practice so didn't get an interview form Oxford, but got offers from BSMS (BMAT) and Keele. Some people will naturally be good at traditional/BMAT-style exams, and if that's you, you might be able to pull off 2 applications to the more competitive BMAT unis, but just make sure you're realistic and have some safe choices too. Remember rankings, prestige, reputation of the uni etc mean nothing for medicine, so no point applying to the more prestigious unis if you're unlikely to get an offer there (although looks like you've done some research and have your reasons for these choices). I recommend looking at websites to check you meet all entry requirements and that the admissions process suits you, e.g. no point applying to Cambridge without maths or physics as your third subject, Oxford is very GCSE-heavy so probably not worth applying without all 8/9s etc. Most unis (or colleges for oxbridge) will also have lists of the societies and sports teams on their website if you want to look at which ones have an Islamic soc or anything else you're interested in. Sorry I can't be of huge help, although IIRC @becausethenight goes to Imperial and might be able to help?

Thanks for the tag :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Wired_1800
I am not a medic but i’d suggest you apply to both then make a decision.

Problem is competition - two BMAT unis is risky at the best of times without knowing your score.

Plus you can’t apply to both of Oxbridge :tongue:
If you have to commute from home then you may as well eliminate Oxbridge right off the bat since as you say, you have to live on campus or a certain number of km from the centre.
Original post by becausethenight
Problem is competition - two BMAT unis is risky at the best of times without knowing your score.

Plus you can’t apply to both of Oxbridge :tongue:


I agree. I meant Imperial + Cambridge (or Oxford).
Reply 7
Not a medic but i guess clinical experience early on is really useful. Is probably like work experience and just shadowing junior doctors etc. That gives you a flavor of what you are letting yourself in for in the medical profession. Oxbridge having no clinical experience for 3 years means will be bit of a shock when you get to a hospital and also wont be as well rounded as Imperial.

However, just apply to both as it is not easy to get an offer from both and can decide later.
Original post by 161BMW
Not a medic but i guess clinical experience early on is really useful. Is probably like work experience and just shadowing junior doctors etc. That gives you a flavor of what you are letting yourself in for in the medical profession. Oxbridge having no clinical experience for 3 years means will be bit of a shock when you get to a hospital and also wont be as well rounded as Imperial.

However, just apply to both as it is not easy to get an offer from both and can decide later.


Just to let you know, med students in their clinical years don't just shadow doctors, they learn and practice their clinical skills like taking blood etc, on my work experience (orthopaedic surgery), the surgeon even let the med student scrub in and assist with the surgery. In pre-clinical years on integrated (early clinical experience) courses, it might be more shadowing staff or listening to a patient's experience rather than actively doing, so maybe more like work experience except it will be taught and you would also learn skills like blood taking, probably on dummies first, but in general work experience is quite different to being a medical student! You're right about Oxbridge students being in for a bit of a shock though!
Original post by spqr101
Heya! I'm in Y12 deciding which unis to apply to, and I am a bit torn here...
Personally the main factors I've been using as a means of deciding which unis I would like to go to are that I love clinical contact (so I'd really like to have that from the beginning) and I REALLLYY would lovee to do research. In terms of other stuff, there being an active Islamic Soc means a lot to me, and alsoo I'm obsessed with historical places which is why the London location is quite meh for me.

I visited Imperial at the recent open day and thought the course seemed amazing! I don't think I quite picked up how much clinical experience there is in the first year though... But there is definitely a huge emphasis on research which really suits me. The thing that puts me off with London unis is the city location though. The campus we saw was the South Kensington one which is actually a lovely location, but do medical students specifically spend a lot of time there?

The issue with oxbridge is the lack of clinical experience for 3 years for me, and also that, for personal reasons, I have to commute from home for uni and it'll be quite difficult for me to do otherwise, which doesn't work for oxbridge since you need to be on campus, right? But I love the location and their emphasis on research!

Long story short, if anyone who goes to imperial or oxbridge for med has any advice they could share about their experience at either of the unis, it would be really helpful! Thanks :smile:


Apply to the uni nearest home - all medicine dgrees are equivalent. Forget Oxbridge as it won't work with living at home.
London not got enough history? Blimey
I think if one of the first things you say is "I want early clinical experience", Oxbridge would 100% be a bad option for you for medicine - from what I have read on TSR, what does exist in the first three years of the course is basically just the minimum token amount required by the GMC, at least at Cambridge?

However you can do research at any university and any medical school - there will always be opportunities available. There is no way to get more patient contact early in the course if it doesn't exist already though.

Also I have moved this to the medical schools forum :smile:
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by bea_murray0
Just to let you know, med students in their clinical years don't just shadow doctors, they learn and practice their clinical skills like taking blood etc, on my work experience (orthopaedic surgery), the surgeon even let the med student scrub in and assist with the surgery. In pre-clinical years on integrated (early clinical experience) courses, it might be more shadowing staff or listening to a patient's experience rather than actively doing, so maybe more like work experience except it will be taught and you would also learn skills like blood taking, probably on dummies first, but in general work experience is quite different to being a medical student! You're right about Oxbridge students being in for a bit of a shock though!


Yes they take blood or put a canulla or whatever in the patient. Then a bit of listening, observing and don’t annoy the staff. Is kind of like work experience with some tasks thrown in as they feel more confident in you. They not going to give you a patient and you to deal with everything on your own unless it is so minor and routine.
Original post by 161BMW
Yes they take blood or put a canulla or whatever in the patient. Then a bit of listening, observing and don’t annoy the staff. Is kind of like work experience with some tasks thrown in as they feel more confident in you. They not going to give you a patient and you to deal with everything on your own unless it is so minor and routine.

You don’t have signoffs on work experience though and you won’t be expected to clerk patients - on my first day of placement in GP we took histories from patients before they saw the GP and then presented them to the GP, which you’d never be allowed to do as a work experience student.

It is genuinely a big step up in terms of the responsibility and what’s being expected of you (even a skill like bloods, while it might seem minor, is a pretty big deal consent and technical skill-wise). Or at least that’s how I found it :tongue:

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